Public Works plans an experiment on some Downtown streets this winter, moving from deicing to "anti-icing," said Mike Kennedy, the city's new Snow Boss.
City crews would spray a 25 percent salt-water solution on certain streets and bridges in and around Downtown about once a week -- and make extra runs in advance of a storm, he said. Instead of waiting for the ice to form and then clearing it, the brine should help prevent ice from forming in the first place and subsequently minimize salt use.
In a separate technology upgrade, the city now has five salt and sand spreaders with variable speed control, he said. In previous years, the salt spreaders ran at one speed, spewing too much salt when the trucks moved slowly, not enough salt when trucks moved quickly.
The new spreaders will change speeds depending on the truck's speed, getting a more uniform distribution, Kennedy said. The spreaders will include the brine mixture with the salt, making it more efficient.
Kennedy presented these and other initiatives in the 2004-05 snow program at a recent City Council committee meeting.
Kennedy said the city would do a better job of letting citizens know it would not declare a snow emergency after 6 p.m. This has been city policy, but people believe they need to keep checking the city hotline at night or the 10 o'clock news.
City crews would begin plowing snow emergency routes at night if snow conditions require it, but the city would wait to declare the snow emergency until the next morning if it hasn't already called one by 6 p.m., he said.
Public Works will add a few new features on its Web site, including the city's plowing goals and the actual time it takes to clear the streets from when the snow stops falling.
Kennedy's other snow emergency reminders included:
- The red flash of police car lights has added meaning in the winter. It's a warning sign to residents that officers are in the area issuing snow emergency parking tickets -- and you have a small window of time to hustle outside and move your car if it is parked on the street. Police began the policy last year.
- After the city declares a snow emergency, drivers may "park after it's plowed," instead of waiting for the parking ban to elapse.
- Earlier this fall, the City Council voted to make snow emergency rules consistent year to year. The city will plow snow emergency routes first, then the even sides of streets, and lastly the odd sides. It means no parking on the even side in day two of a snow emergency and no parking on the odd side on the last day.
- The city continues to have SnOasis ramps on the first night of a snow emergency. They offer low-cost parking in areas with limited on-street parking. In Downtown, the SnOasis ramps are: Loring Ramp (in the Hyatt Hotel), 1330 Nicollet Ave., and Elliot Park's Centre Village Ramp, 700 5th Ave. S.
(These two SnOasis ramps cost $2 a night. Drivers must enter after 4 p.m. and leave before 7 a.m., or get charged the maximum daily rate. To get the deal, you have to show proof of residence near the ramp.)